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Legend Norman Gifford on the ever-changing game of cricket

Legend Norman Gifford on the ever-changing game of cricket
Legend Norman Gifford on the ever-changing game of cricket
©Worcestershire CCC

Gifford made his List A debut in the Lord’s showpiece and ended with figures of 15-4-33-4 to be voted man of the match, although he believes the award should have gone to Sussex keeper-batter Jim Parks.

He finished on the losing side in a game scheduled to be 65 overs per side with Worcestershire bowled out in the dark at 9pm chasing a 169 target in an era of no floodlights or fielding restrictions.

It was a million miles away from the massive TV exposure, explosive hitting, ramp shots et al, evident in List A and T20 cricket circa 2023.

But the former England spinner, who finished his career with 2068 first class wickets, is still alive and kicking at the age of 83 and will be attendance for a rematch of the final when the sides meet in a crucial Metro Bank One Day Cup encounter at New Road on Sunday.

He takes a keen interest in the progress of the current Worcestershire side, was still coaching the spinners up until five years ago, and would love to see captain Jake Libby lift the trophy to commemorate the 60th anniversary of that

Worcestershire are very much in contention to reach the knockout stages heading into Sunday’s meeting with the Sharks.

Gifford said: “Never thought that 60 years later we would be playing knockout cricket and the game is unrecognisable to when we walked out for that first final.

“I don’t think you would have seen Tom Graveney playing a ramp shot but the players were good enough to have adapted.

“We just played the sort of cricket we played every day.

“The more you played it, the more idea you got of what to do at certain stages as the years went by, and people got into the tactical side of things.

“When the first final ended, it was nine o’clock, it was dark, no fielding restrictions. Ted Dexter captained Sussex and he worked out how he would set his fields for this one-day competition.

“He was one of the first captains to really go into field placings and where he wanted people. Sussex won it again the following year and had a very good side.

“You wouldn’t have been playing today in the light we faced at the end but everyone just wanted to get the game over in one day and it was a lot of overs, 65 overs each.

“But looking back, we were still so disappointed that we lost. Nowadays, chasing 168 in 60 odd overs, you would certainly fancy that.

“We fancied scoring those runs but the trouble is people got in and got out, Ron Headley, Dick Richardson and Tom Graveney got 20s and Roy Booth ended 33 not out.”

Gifford was one of three spinners in the Worcestershire side alongside Doug Slade and Martin Horton.

He said: “I finished up man of the match but it should have been Jim Parks who got 57 and that was a winning contribution for Sussex.

“We were on the cusp of winning back to back County Championships. It was brilliant to play in a final but to win the Championship the following year for the first time was special.”

Gifford, who had a spell as Sussex coach after he hung up his spikes, is looking forward to Sunday’s modern day re-match and he has confidence in the Rapids to progress in the tournament.

He said: “It would be nice to mark the 60th anniversary by winning it and I would be delighted.

“They are a good bunch of lads, they’re behind the skipper and they’ve got a bit of belief in themselves.

“When you watch them play, they look as if they are really up for it. We are playing good cricket.”